Sellinger MBA alumna sells successful business, looks toward future
Janine DiPaula Stevens, MBA ’01, has started and sold a business, created a caffeinated chewing gum, teaches entrepreneurship, led two professional women’s organizations and became part-owner of a commercial property in Canton all before she turned 40. Now she’s looking toward the future.
“I have so many business ideas right now. For starters, there is a product my husband and I developed called Power Play Energy Gum, a caffeinated chewing gum. I would like to get it beyond the internet and into convenience stores,” Janine DiPaula Stevens said. “I look at entrepreneurship as an open invitation, a clean slate, to build and create change.”
DiPaula Stevens started Vircity in 2005 and sold it this year days before her 40th birthday on May 14. Vircity, which has a storefront in Canton, provides businesses with back-office support such as administration, event planning, bookkeeping, printing and mailing and graphic design. DiPaula said, after growing the business, meeting her goals and positioning Vircity for future growth, she’s ready to pursue other opportunities.
“I have a drive to control my own destiny,” she said. “I guess you could say I just want to do things when I want and how I want. I want to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes and use that information to help other businesses grow.”
DiPaula Stevens has been growing her business career since she was 12 years old. As a teenager, she babysat children, worked for Harford Community College’s dinner theater, served in a concession stand, managed a real estate appraising firm, earned certification as a residential appraiser and managed the office of an arts and crafts store.
“I said yes to any job that came my way and let my mentors push me to gain as much experience as I could in as many fields as possible. Some parents cart their children to sporting activities; mine were constantly taking me to and from work.”
She hasn’t stopped since. Prior to starting Vircity, DiPaula Stevens directed marketing for The Center Club in Baltimore. She served as president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners as well as Network 2000, which also supports women in business. She earned her MBA from Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business in 2001 and her bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame of Maryland University.
“Life isn’t a dress rehearsal, so sometimes you just have to jump. An entrepreneur needs to be willing to take risks, accept that they will stumble along the way and have the courage to keep going,” she said. “You never know where the next great idea will come from, but it will most probably come from an entrepreneur.”